History and Culture
The Cape Flattery Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island was first lit in 1857.
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary occupies a maritime cultural landscape that has supported
humans from time immemorial. Stories, songs, place-names, maps, histories and the remnant traces -
ancient villages, shipwrecks, lighthouses – persist as reminders of the many human connections to
this corner of the ocean. Recognizing those connections honors the people themselves, no matter at
what point in time they gazed across these waters and shores. It keeps those stories alive to inform
us about the human story over time. It reaffirms a fundamental connection between a bountiful
ecosystem and people.
One of our missions is to protect those irreplaceable legacies and to understand what they teach
us about ecological change and sustaining our timeless dependence on the ocean, for food, mobility
Our historic preservation mandate comes from the
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)
which applies to all federal agencies. The NHPA requires us to consider all impacts to historic
resources that result from our work and our decisions. It also requires us to consult closely with
others - states, tribes, other agencies historical organizations who have a stake in protecting our
historic and cultural heritage.
Cedar canoes are vital to Northwestern coastal tribe culture.
Many aspects of native culture
are part of day to day living in
Olympic Coast reservation communities. We work closely with the Quinault Indian Nation, the Hoh Tribe,
Quileute Tribe and Makah Tribe in areas of mutual interest. We recognize and respect the
long-standing relationship that the tribes have with the marine environment they depend on.
More than 150 shipwwrecks have been documented on the Olympic Coast.
Ships from other places have found their way to the Olympic Coast for centuries. Drifting junks
from Asia; explorers from European empires; sailing ships and steamships engaged in trade; warships;
freighters, passenger ships and tankers. Unfortunately, the rugged Olympic Coast has claimed many
of them as shipwrecks. Learn more about some of our more famous - and infamous -
The area now included in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary has a rich past in shaping
. From early exploration by Spanish, English, Russian and
American seafarers the modern era of World War II and the rise of Pacific Rim trade, the Olympic
Coast has been a gateway.
Contact for page content: Robert Steelquist